Sunday, November 10, 2013

Land of the Free?

If you are planning a family getaway, vacation, or golf outing you may want to cross the state of New Mexico off your list.  If you do decide to travel to, or through the state, I'd advise using public transportation.  Driving yourself may result in dire, unforeseen consequences.

I don't know what's in the air/water in the town of Deming,NM, but the police have gone insane.  Or perhaps it's something worse; racial discrimination resulting in police brutality w/homosexual overtones.

What follows are the stories of two men, Timothy Young and David Eckert, and the unbelievable ordeals they endured at the hands of the local police.  63 year old David Eckert's day of torture and sexual assault began when he allegedly "rolled through" a stop sign in Deming on Jan 2, 2013.  Officers pulled him over, ordering him to get out of the vehicle.  One of the officers asked to physically search Mr. Eckert's person and he refused to consent, since he had done nothing wrong.  The officers then applied to a county judge to approve a search warrant and authority for a body cavity search, alleging that Mr. Eckert appeared to have "clenched his butt cheeks" and that their K9 "hit" on his car seat (the dog is not certified in drug detection), leading them to believe he could be concealing drugs in his anal cavity.  Based on such a weak standard of "probable cause" the judge approved the warrant.

The officers transported their victim to a local hospital, where the ER doctor refused to perform the procedure, saying it was "unethical".  Undeterred, they then went to the Gila Regional Medical Center, in the process crossing the county line, rendering the warrant invalid.  While at the facility, Mr. Eckert underwent a 12 hour ordeal during which he was forced to undergo 2 x-rays, 2 "digital" anal searches (think, prostate exam), 3 forced enemas & bowel movements, and forced colonoscopy under anesthetic.  NO EVIDENCE OF DRUGS WERE EVER FOUND.

Pouring salt in the wound, he later received a bill from the medical center for $6,000 for the cost of medical procedures he never consented to.  The medical center has also threatened to  take him into collections.  They may sue him for the cost of his humiliation and assault!

Timothy Young's mis-adventure began when he allegedly failed to use his signal when making a turn on October 13, 2013 in Lordsburg, NM.  In the course of working this traffic stop Leo, the same K9 that "hit" on Mr. Eckert's vehicle in January, triggering a search for non-existent drugs, also "hit" on his vehicle.  As in the case with Mr. Eckert, the police "armed with 'probable cause' and a search warrant" took Mr. Young to, again, the Gila Regional Medical Center in Silver City, NM where he was subjected to repeated x-rays and anal cavity searches.  As in the previous case, no evidence of drugs were found and no valid search warrant was in effect.  Both men have filed lawsuits against the police departments, the  judge approving the warrants, and the medical center and it's staff. 

Mr. Eckert's attorney, Albuquerque civil rights attorney Shannon Kennedy, has raised the spectre of racial discrimination in his case, saying "Maybe the officers who did this don't like him living in their community," said Kennedy. "He's a white boy, a scraggly white boy, and all these officers are Hispanic. It's a New Mexico thing."  Atty Kennedy is also representing Mr. Young.

I don't know enough, none of us do, to paint these officers and the department with the racist tar brush; has to wonder if there would be such a suspension of judgment if the ethnicity was the reverse, with white officers allegedly mistreating a Hispanic.  Somehow, I have to believe that, if such were the case, there would've been much more national attention brought to bear and the condemnation would've been immediate and widespread.

Lest you believe that you'll be ok on your vacation as long as you avoid Deming, NM, there's this companion story out of El Paso, TX detailing the story of  a New Mexico woman who was allegedly stripped-searched, vaginally probed and then taken to a hospital for more invasive examinations after crossing back into El Paso from Mexico in December.  The biggest difference between this case and the cases in Deming, NM is that the Border Patrol never bothered to seek and obtain a search warrant before taking this woman to the hospital in El Paso, TX where, "after being stripped and vaginally probed, the woman was allegedly subjected to X-rays, scans and a forced bowel movement."  As with the other incidents, NO EVIDENCE OF DRUGS WAS EVER FOUND.

A spokesman for the Border Patrol in El Paso did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the case or on its policies for conducting such searches.

Travelling in the southwest any time soon?  Drive carefully, obey all traffic laws, remember to ALWAYS use your turn signal, and no day trips into Mexico for souvenirs. 


No comments:

Post a Comment